Christopher Columbus and the New World HTML version

Relief Of The Admiral
There was no further difficulty about provisions, which were punctually brought by the
natives on the old terms; but the familiar, spirit of sedition began to work again among
the unhappy Spaniards, and once more a mutiny, led this time by the apothecary
Bernardo, took form—the intention being to seize the remaining canoes and attempt to
reach Espanola. This was the point at which matters had arrived, in March 1504, when as
the twilight was falling one evening a cry was raised that there was a ship in sight; and
presently a small caravel was seen standing in towards the shore. All ideas of mutiny
were forgotten, and the crew assembled in joyful anticipation to await, as they thought,
the coming of their deliverers. The caravel came on with the evening breeze; but while it
was yet a long way off the shore it was seen to be lying to; a boat was lowered and rowed
towards the harbour.
As the boat drew near Columbus could recognise in it Diego de Escobar, whom he
remembered having condemned to death for his share in the rebellion of Roldan. He was
not the man whom Columbus would have most wished to see at that moment. The boat
came alongside the hulks, and a barrel of wine and a side of bacon, the sea-compliment
customary on such occasions, was handed up. Greatly to the Admiral's surprise, however,
Escobar did not come on board, but pushed his boat off and began to speak to Columbus
from a little distance. He told him that Ovando was greatly distressed at the Admiral's
misfortunes; that he had been much occupied by wars in Espanola, and had not been able
to send a message to him before; that he greatly regretted he had no ship at present large
enough to bring off the Admiral and his people, but that he would send one as soon as he
had it. In the meantime the Admiral was to be assured that all his affairs in Espanola were
being attended to faithfully, and that Escobar was instructed to bring back at once any
letters which the Admiral might wish to write.
The coolness and unexpectedness of this message completely took away the breath of the
unhappy Spaniards, who doubtless stood looking in bewilderment from Escobar to
Columbus, unable to believe that the caravel had not been sent for their relief. Columbus,
however, with a self-restraint which cannot be too highly praised, realised that Escobar
meant what he said, and that by protesting against his action or trying to interfere with it
he would only be putting himself in the wrong. He therefore retired immediately to his
cabin and wrote a letter to Ovando, in which he drew a vivid picture of the distress of his
people, reported the rebellion of the Porras brothers, and reminded Ovando that he relied
upon the fulfilment of his promise to send relief. The letter was handed over to Escobar,
who rowed back with it to his caravel and immediately sailed away with it into the night.
Before he could retire to commune with his own thoughts or to talk with his faithful
brother, Columbus had the painful duty of speaking to his people, whose puzzled and